7-year-old old girl discerns what Wal-Mart does not: Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover girl isn’t wearing a bathing suit

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NEW YORK (April 1, 2008) – On Monday, March 31, Robert Peters, President of MIM, took a phone call from a mother in North Carolina, who later emailed her account in writing (told in part here):

“While visiting a new Super Wal-Mart last week, my 7-year-old daughter handed my mom (her grandmother) Sports Illustrated (SI) magazine’s 2008 ‘Swimsuit Edition.’ She said, ‘Look Grandma, this woman isn’t wearing a bathing suit top!’ My mom then went to a Wal-Mart employee and told her what happened stating that this should have never be on a shelf where children can be exposed to it. The woman agreed and went immediately and removed all the magazines from the shelf.

“Today, we returned to the same Wal-Mart to see if the magazines were still gone. They were not. Wal-Mart had put the magazines back out on the magazine rack at the very same location as before, exposing children of all ages to the cover on the SI magazine (not to mention what is inside of the magazine)… Later, a manager was introduced to me. After explaining to him what happened last week and then just today, I asked him if there was anything he could do about this…He said…he would have to put the magazines back on the shelf because SI rented space…SI was not considered pornographic, and that this issue is being displayed all over the nation. He told me to call 1-800-WALMART and log a complaint.”

Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, had the following comments:

“In my opinion, SI’s Swimsuit Edition 2008 is ‘soft-core pornography.’ With Playboy magazine, we have full nudity; with the Swimsuit Edition, partial nudity. Otherwise, there is no difference that I can see.

“Surely Wal-Mart executives must realize that males don’t purchase the Swimsuit Edition to view art or to choose bathing suits for their wives or girl friends. In the first place, some models aren’t wearing anything at all; many aren’t wearing anything ‘on top;’ and most would be arrested in many localities if they appeared in a public place in the ‘attire’ (or lack thereof) provided them by Sports Illustrated.

“State or local public indecency laws typically prohibit individuals from appearing in a public place, like Wal-Mart or a public beach, while in a state of ‘nudity,’ typically defined to mean: ‘the showing of the human genitals, pubic area, anus, anal cleft, or any part of the female breast below a horizontal line across the top of the areola with less than a fully opaque covering.’ Many state and local harmful-to-minors sale and display laws also define nudity in this manner. Neither type of law uses the term ‘pornographic.’

“Rather than trying to discern whether a magazine depicting naked or semi-naked models is ‘pornographic,’ Wal-Mart would be better advised to be on the lookout for magazines with ‘models’ that aren’t wearing any or enough clothes. That way they will also see what a child can readily see, namely, models with little or no clothes on, like the emperor of old.”

“Wal-Mart can then much-better decide whether to put the magazines behind blinder racks or to not sell them to minors or to not sell them at all.”

The North Carolina mother is available for interviews (contact MIM). She also has a complaint about the SI website, which advertises its “SI KIDS” section almost next door to its indecent SWIMSUIT section.


Headquartered in New York City, MORALITY IN MEDIA works through constitutional means to curb traffic in illegal obscenity. MIM operates the www.obscenitycrimes.org website, where citizens can report possible violations of federal Internet obscenity laws.

Author: MIM   04/01/2008

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